IT Certification

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Penetration Tester?

The definition of penetration testing varies among experts. But most professionals agree that pen testing is a process of testing vulnerabilities in IT infrastructure by conducting a lawful cyberattack. The times when companies only called an ethical hacker to find a solution after the attack are long gone. Everyone wants to keep an eye on possible breaches and vulnerable spots in their IT infrastructure, and that is where a penetration tester proves to be helpful.

In the last few years, vacancies for penetration testers have increased. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32% increase in demand for information security analysts between 2018 and 2028 [1]. Due to this, more and more cybersecurity professionals are opting for a penetration testing course training. Businesses that handle high volumes of personal, sensitive, proprietary, and classified information consider hiring penetration testers.

Cyberattacks happen every day, due to which businesses lose the privacy, data, funds, and trust of their customers. Since 2020, these threats have increased because people are working and studying from home. On January 5, 2021, the FBI warned that cybercriminals are looking for ways to exploit online classrooms [2]. In 2020, more than $1 trillion was lost to cybercrime [3].

The demand for penetration testers is set to increase because of such impending threats. Penetration testing was one of the top 5 job profiles in cybersecurity [4]. If you find cracking codes and solving puzzles interesting, then this job just might be the perfect fit for you.

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing, otherwise called pen test or pen testing, is a simulated cyberattack against a system to inspect exploitable weaknesses. It is a process that helps an organization to determine if its systems are susceptible to attacks and ways to prevent them.

The pen tester attempts to breach application systems like frontend/backend servers or application protocol interfaces (APIs) to discover exploitable weaknesses. The results from the penetration tests can then be applied to fix and patch identified vulnerabilities.

Phases of Penetration Testing

Penetration testing certification is recommended for network administrators, engineers, system or software developers, self-taught hackers, and students. Students who have prior understanding of tools and techniques related to ethical hacking, understanding of Linux, Linux Server Administration and Identity, and access management can also start their career path to become a certified penetration tester. Elaborate and well-thought-out certification programs equip you with the right mix of formal knowledge and hands-on, practical experience. These skills add more credibility to your knowledge, capturing the focus of employers during the hiring process.

Major sectors that hire penetration testing professionals include healthcare, financial services, technology companies, and government. Top technology enterprises hire internal penetration testers as a part of their quality assurance commitments. Big enterprises like Amazon, Paylocity, and IBM hire penetration testers on a regular basis. IBM is also one of the top-paying employers of pen testers.

Skills Required to Be a Penetration Tester

There’s a clear shortage of skilled penetration testers, because of which implementing and sustaining a penetration testing program becomes more challenging. Research suggests that the cybersecurity workforce needs to increase by 145% to breach this obvious skills gap.

Someone who knows the basics of ethical hacking will grow further in their career with penetration testing certification. Some of the required skills to make it big as a pen tester are:

  • Programming skills such as Python, Bash, Ruby, Perl, and PHP. Other languages common in web development can also prove useful such as CSS, HTML, SQL, ASP.NET, and JavaScript.
  • Knowledge of vulnerabilities and exploits beyond tool suites.
  • Strong knowledge of computer networks.
  • Ability to script or write a code.
  • Securing web communication by generating secure domain certificates.
  • Understanding of *nix systems.
  • Willingness to constantly learn.
  • System administration skills.
  • Soft skills such as public speaking, team player, effective communication and interpersonal skills, and report writing.

Please note that technical skills aren’t the only indicators of success for a penetration testing exercise. The most important thing is to be determined and willing to keep going even in the face of difficulty. The ability to keep on learning and ask for help when necessary is also quite important.

How Can You Learn Penetration Testing?

The importance of penetration testers is only going to rise in the coming future. Everything is dependent on the internet and cybercriminals are finding new ways to breach vulnerable points. With the most relevant skills, you can learn penetration testing like a true professional. While selecting an institute to pursue a penetration testing course, make sure that their program uses relevant case studies and real-world examples. Professionals who have knowledge of the latest tools and techniques will be able to impress employers and progress further with ease.

Certified Penetration Tester (CPENT) from EC-Council is a widely recognized certification program that covers every aspect of performing a successful penetration testing. Since its inception, CPENT has been able to create new standards of penetration testing skill development. If you’ve only been operating in flat networks, CPENT’s live practice range will help you elevate your skills by teaching you how to pen test OT systems, IoT systems, how to build your own tools, how to write your own exploits, double pivot to access hidden networks, conduct advanced binaries exploration, and customize scripts to penetrate the innermost segments of the network.

Why Professionals Should Pursue CPENT?

Many individuals who complete their CPENT certification course are working professionals. A number of companies also encourage their IT department employees to opt for this course. CPENT is one of the few programs that allows you to choose how to get certified! You can choose the CPENT training course to go beyond the concepts you’ve learned in CEH and learn proven methodologies used by experts. You can opt for the CPENT Challenge Edition if you’re already working as a penetration tester and feel you’re ready to take on the CPENT range and earn your certification without attending the penetration testing course training.

EC-Council has different training options from which you can choose the most convenient option for you. This includes:

  • iLearn (self-study)
  • iWeek (live online)
  • MasterClass
  • Training Partner (in-person)
  • Education Partner (in-person or online)

The question is, do you need training or are you ready to tackle the CPENT Challenge Edition? Visit our course page for more details!


Do you need a degree to be a Penetration Tester?

It isn’t mandatory for you to have a degree before you become a penetration tester. Most penetration testers learn on the job. However, having a degree will make the job easier and boost your employability. It will also help if you have a computer-related degree.

What college degree(s) are needed to be a Penetration Tester?

You need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, or any computer-related degree, such as cybersecurity, engineering, or IT. Degrees and industry-standard ethical hacking and penetration testing certifications create an impression among employers during the hiring process. It isn’t set in stone that these are the requirements. The basic requirement you need is a higher knowledge of the tools and strategies hackers implement to compromise protected information networks.

Is penetration testing a good career?

When you consider the salary, the complexity of the job, and the “good” you do for your clients, it is easy to conclude that penetration testing is a good job. You break into businesses via their technology and afterwards demonstrate to them where their vulnerabilities reside so they can resolve them. In a nutshell, penetration testing is a good job for good people with the capacity to do bad things.

How long does a penetration test take?

The length of a penetration test depends on the method, size of the infrastructure, and tools used. Typical penetration tests take 1-3 weeks and results vary according to the given factors.

Is penetration testing legal?

Penetration testing is a legal activity if the pen tester keeps their clients aware about the procedures. Depending on the intention of penetration testing exercise, the client can go on to notify their staff about the activity or keep them in dark until the results arrive.



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